Rayonier’s Success Is Intertwined With Northeast Florida

Rayonier relocated their headquarters to Northeast Florida in 1999, but their roots in the region date back to the 1930s. During that time, they have continued to acquire and manage timberland, adapt and grow as their business model has evolved and embark on one of the largest community development projects in the United States.

“Relocating to the Jacksonville region provided us a lot of advantages and the quality of life is unmatched, but the more time we spent in the area we realized how much opportunity there was in Northeast Florida,” said Mike Bell, vice president of public affairs and communications at Rayonier.

In 2014, Rayonier divided its land resources business from its performance fibers business, creating two independent publicly traded companies “As Rayonier has evolved, we have always continued to look for ways to maximize the value of our land holdings,” added Bell. “Our commitment to sustainable forestry efforts has remained constant, but through that exploration, the idea for Wildlight was born.”

Wildlight is a 2,900-acre mixed-use, master-planned development in Nassau County near Yulee that aims to create a sustainable and vibrant community with a mix of housing options along with commercial and retail spaces. As Wildlight develops, it will also contain the largest land conservation easement in the history of Northeast Florida, a 12,000+ acre Conservation Habitat Network. Wildlight is now the home of Rayonier’s corporate headquarters.

“Fulfilling the full vision of Wildlight will take 75 to 100 years – that means 3-4 generations will take part in its development,” said Wes Hinton, vice president of Wildlight. “Nassau County is a great place to live and it’s only going to get better as we create a community that both attracts people to Northeast Florida and lets locals stay local by having close access to key services and retail. Creating this kind of community is an amazing opportunity for Rayonier and the region.”

As Rayonier looks toward the future, they are committed to being a great partner to the community, their customers and 400+ employees, and continuing to provide nature-based solutions across its footprint.

Suddath’s Start In Jacksonville Leads To Global Growth

The 100+ year history of Suddath has been filled with growth and transformation. From its inception as a moving company in the Jacksonville region to a global powerhouse in transportation, logistics and more, Suddath has evolved with the market and its customer needs and continues to drive innovative solutions through its historical strength as the largest commercial mover in the United States.

“The last 10 years have brought great change and growth for Suddath,” said Mike Brannigan, president and chief executive officer of Suddath. “Our strategy has been to look for ways we could build on our rich history and provide more offerings that help our customers with their efficiency and effectiveness. “That has allowed us to diversify what we do and where we do it.”

In the early days, Suddath focused primarily on local moving services, helping families and businesses in the Jacksonville region move their belongings and equipment. However, as the company grew and expanded, it began offering a wider range of transportation, logistics and project management services, including international moving, workplace solutions, warehousing and distribution and employee relocation. Today, the company has more than 2,000 employees, locations on three continents and serves customers in 180 countries worldwide.

Suddath’s base of operations in Jacksonville has continued to provide a significant strategic advantage for the organization and its clients. Northeast Florida’s prominence as a transportation and logistics center provides Suddath the global connectivity it needs to serve its clientele.

The Jacksonville region’s ability to create and retain talent is also important to Suddath. “Our partnerships with the local colleges and universities are critical to innovation and our ability to move up the value chain,” added Brannigan. “The University of North Florida, Jacksonville University and Florida State College at Jacksonville all have programs that provide specifically trained talent to us because we help with programming and curriculums. That ability to work with them to build the talent we need accelerates development and their contribution to our goals.”

In addition to its moving and logistics services, Suddath is also committed to giving back to the communities it serves. The company has a long history of philanthropy, supporting a wide range of charitable causes and organizations in Jacksonville and beyond. Some of the organizations Suddath supports include Move For Hunger, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Sweater Drive, Truckers Against Trafficking and K9s For Warriors.

Suddath’s roadmap, now more than ever, is one of growth, innovation and dedication to its customers and communities around the world, but the Jacksonville region remains central to its success.

Johnson & Johnson Vision is Grounded and Growing in Jacksonville

What started in 1981 in Jacksonville as Frontier Contact Lenses has become a growth engine for one of the world’s most revered health care companies. Since then, Johnson & Johnson Vision which has its global headquarters based in Jacksonville has continued to innovate and prosper in the region to become what it is today – developing and manufacturing solutions which help to improve the sight for millions of people around the world.

Prior to its acquisition, Frontier had 150 employees in Northeast Florida. Today, more than 3,500 people work for Jacksonville’s Johnson & Johnson Vision campus. This growth has come through several expansion efforts over the years, including its most recent announcement of an incremental $200 million investment in its Deerwood Park headquarters.

Our people are truly excited about the cause of eye health. They are always learning and driving innovation, so we want to support those goals through investments in the business and in them professionally,” said Peter Menziuso, company group chairman of Johnson & Johnson Vision. “It’s a significant mission—2.2 billion people globally are vision impaired, and a lot of them have no eye care available. Our solutions are changing the world, and it is imperative that we have the best and brightest in our ranks.

A key dimension of Johnson & Johnson Vision’s hiring model is the integration of former military members. In fact, 75 percent of the company’s manufacturing team are current or former military personnel. “Veterans have the background, training and work ethic needed to drive us forward,” added Menziuso. “Recruiting people from the military is a critical part of our talent strategy because of our highly specialized and technical needs—another reason why Jacksonville is a strategic fit for us.” Each year, there are approximately 3,000 military separations who choose to remain in the Jacksonville region.

Another strategic advantage for Johnson & Johnson Vision is Jacksonville’s position as a logistics and transportation center. The region’s deep-water ports, interconnecting interstates, railroad spurs and international airport system provides them with a global reach right from their manufacturing facilities. This provides both speed to market and built-in efficiencies that are virtually unmatched by the competition.

Technical secondary education in the area is an advantage as well. Johnson & Johnson Vision regularly recruits from the region’s colleges and universities, including University of North Florida and nearby top 20 public universities, the University of Florida and Florida State University. The company also helps develop programs and curriculums that prepare the future workforce for roles within the organization. That—coupled with a strong commitment to giving back to the community—has created a critical partnership between the company and the city they call home.

From their start in San Marco to producing 1.7 billion contact lenses annually, Johnson & Johnson Vision is a catalyst for growth in the Jacksonville area and the leader in the future of vision care around the world.

Deutsche Bank Supports Global Clients from Jacksonville Hub

With trillions in assets across the world, Deutsche Bank is truly a financial powerhouse. What you may not know is that a key part of their global operation resides in the Jacksonville region and has for more than 15 years.

Deutsche Bank’s presence in Northeast Florida dates back to 2008 and originally planned for a few hundred roles across operations, investment banking and IT support. Today, there are more than 2,000 employees in the Jacksonville region and the functional support has expanded to include Investment Bank, Corporate Bank, Private Bank, Research, a suite of Operations and Technology functions, Compliance, Anti-Financial Crime, Finance, Audit, Legal, Risk Management and Human Resources.

“Jacksonville provided the opportunity to grow our talent pool in a way that was cost efficient, but cost wasn’t the sole driving factor,” said Brian Fay, Americas head of operations and managing director for Deutsche Bank Jacksonville. “We realized quickly that we didn’t have to keep jobs in New York to get the level of talent and experience we needed to support and grow our business. Deutsche Bank has a lot of complex roles and it’s incredibly helpful to have people in Jacksonville with the appropriate skill sets.”

Jacksonville has been a great place to grow on several different levels,” added Nader Jarun, Deutsche Bank’s chief of staff for Jacksonville. “Not only are we able to find the talent we need for our functions here, but our colleagues in other U.S. locations, and around the world, are looking to the Jacksonville site as a place to compliment the bank’s strategy, foster employee career growth and enable our employees to maintain a better quality of life. That kind of career mobility is something on which we pride ourselves.

The growth of Deutsche Bank has been helped by the continued rise of the financial services sector in the Jacksonville region. With more than 64,800 employees, the industry is one of the largest employers in the area and regularly sees new companies and fresh talent arrive almost daily. “It’s great for Deutsche Bank to be in a location where so many leaders in financial services reside,” said Fay. “Yes, we all do compete for talent, but that pushes us all to be better and to differentiate ourselves.”

As for the future of Deutsche Bank in Jacksonville, it will remain a focal point of their regional strategy. “We will always look for ways to build synergies based on our scale here,” said Fay. “Plus, we want to continue to give back to a community that has done so much for us. Since we don’t have retail branches in Jacksonville like some of our competitors, our involvement and support in the region helps generate a #positiveimpact with our community partners and clients as well as increase the awareness of the DB brand. We’re excited about where we are going as a bank and Jacksonville will remain an integral part of our plans.”

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Spotlight on Northeast Florida as Region is Featured in Florida Trend

The January 2022 issue of state business and policy publication Florida Trend features an in-depth look at the positive momentum taking place in the seven-county Jacksonville region in its “Jacksonville & Northeast Florida” regional economic profile.

The 26-page section highlights the region’s transportation infrastructure, industries, health care, education and development, showing that the region’s growth is not just in the here and now, but sustainable for the future. Read more…

A Search For A New Food Service Headquarters Lands in Northeast Florida

Comarco Products, a long-standing leader in the food service industry, struggled with their ability to grow their operation from their headquarters in Camden, New Jersey. After years of dealing with remediation issues and burdening taxes, Comarco made the decision to relocate and ultimately settled on Palatka in Putnam County.

“It was a tough decision to leave our home of 32 years, but we knew we needed to move,” said Tom Hoversen, president of Comarco Products. “Our plant was showing signs of age and it was impossible to find a way to build out and modernize in the business climate we were in. I Googled “North Florida economic development” and started talking to people in my industry about new locations.”

After searching the Southeast for the ideal long-term location, Comarco settled on Florida since it gets most of its eggplants from Florida and the state had the available space and talent required to house their operations. The company leadership found the ideal site for their manufacturing plant in Palatka, located approximately 60 miles south of Jacksonville along the St. Johns River and known for its support of large-scale operations.

Comarco now runs their business in a 52,000-square-foot building and has 125 employees in the area. Their plan is to run three production lines out of the facility, which also serves as the company’s headquarters. They also expanded their operation with a freezer which can hold 1,200 pallets of frozen products along with automated equipment and new state-of-the-art conveyor lines.

The people and business community in Palatka have truly been welcoming and completely supportive,” added Hoversen. “We could have not asked for a better situation both professionally and personally. I can’t say enough good things about Palatka and we know that relocating to Northeast Florida was the right move.

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Tech Leader Strengthens Innovation Ecosystem in Northeast Florida

Coastal Cloud, a Salesforce consulting partner offering businesses a single cloud-based platform to automate processes, has seen exponential growth since its founding in Palm Coast in 2012. They were recently recognized by Inc. as one of the fastest growing companies in Florida and by Florida Trend as one of the “Best Companies to Work For in Florida.”

From the beginning, Coastal Cloud set a goal of creating a modern consulting firm focused on client outcomes while ensuring that their expert consultants and employees would enjoy a work/life balance. By 2017, they had more than 100 employees and are now approaching 300 employees throughout the United States, a quarter of which are based in Northeast Florida.

“We really want to break the model,” said Matt Hauck, director of marketing for Coastal Cloud. Tech consulting companies have traditionally been centered around ‘tech cities,’ but the spread of the tech ecosystem has made that model expensive and not great for employees.  Northeast Florida provides the perfect environment for us because we can foster talent locally and attract talent nationally.

Coastal Cloud hires across a variety of levels and disciplines and has a retention rate that is unsurpassed in the technology space. Their Flagler County headquarters acts as a hub for its operations and is a draw to talent from across the country.

“When there are no barriers to where you work, people choose to work in Florida.  The special thing about Northeast Florida is that it strikes a wonderful balance,” added Hauck. “It’s easy to live here, has a lower cost of living and creates a lifestyle that is matched with business growth opportunities.”

Coastal Cloud’s motto of “improving business and improving lives” can be seen in their connection to the community. They are developing the next generation of technology consultants by helping educators integrate technology into the curriculum through its project-based i3 Academy at Flagler Palm Coast High School and offering internships that can lead to career opportunities at the company. They also actively support Captains for Clean Water, Safe Schools for Alex and the University of Florida Whitney Laboratory for Marine Science. Finally, they used their acumen to work with the federal, state and local governments on COVID testing and vaccinations for more than 1 million Floridians.